The Team

Students

Brian Eccles

Brian Eccles

Computer Science

Brian Eccles is a undergraduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) studying Computer Science. He has participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition for 6 years now and was on FRC 1058 the PVC Pirates and now mentors FRC 190. Brian worked with Brendan and TJ on the BRINA robot for the ASME Student Design Competition in 2013, and the robot is now used by WPI as a demonstration robot for attracting more students to the Robotics Program. Last summer he worked on the WPILib development team upgrading a CAD exportation program that will allow researchers to create robot models in Solidworks and then export them to URDF format for use in the Gazebo simulator. Brian is interested in embedded software development for robotic systems. Brian will primarily be working with Mitchell on developing software for the WALRUS Rover.

Brendan McLeod

Brendan McLeod

Mechanical Engineering/Robotics Engineering

Brendan is a senior completing his dual degree in Robotics Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. He started his robotics career on his high school FIRST Robotics Team (FRC Team #1058) in his hometown of Londonderry, NH. During his time at WPI, Brendan has mentored FRC Team 190, and served one year as the Team Director. In addition, he competed in the ASME Student Design competition in 2013. Along with the WPI team, they placed first in the regional qualified, and proceeded to the international completion. He has worked several internships since his freshman year including: FIRST Robotics, iRobot, and Apple Inc., as well as a student teaching assistant for WPI’s Introduction to Robotics class (RBE 1001). Since he first started robotics engineering, he has been interested in Search and Rescue Robotics, as well as industrial robotics. His main areas of interest are in advanced manufacturing, 3D printing, proof-of-concept design, prototyping, and rapid development. Brendan will primarily serve in in the mechanical design and analysis for this rover.

Mitchell Wills

Mitchell Wills

Computer Science/Robotics Engineering

Mitchell Wills is an undergraduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) pursuing a degree in Computer Science and Robotics Engineering. Mitchell is interested in software engineering for robotics applications, robot controls and embedded systems development. Along with working on numerous robots for classes, Mitchell has participated in the NASA Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge in 2013 and 2014, and assisted a team competing in the RASC-AL Robo-Ops Competition. He also has mentored high school students competing in the FIRST Robotics Challenge and contributed to a software library developed by WPI to assist students competing in the challenge. He also works as a teaching assistant for WPI’s robotics navigation and mapping course and has real world software experience from internships at companies including MITRE, Microsoft and Google.

TJ Watson

TJ Watson

Mechanical Engineering/Robotics Engineering

Thomas “TJ” Watson is an undergraduate student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) pursuing a double major in Robotics Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. He has also been accepted into the 5 year BS/MS program in Robotics Engineering. TJ has been associated with FIRST Robotics teams for 10 years now, starting with FLL in middle school, World Champion FRC Team 177 Bobcat Robotics in high school, and now mentors FRC 190 at WPI. He worked with Brendan and Brian on the ASME Student Design Competition robot BRINA, which is commonly used by WPI as a demonstration robot. He spent his first two collegiate summers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory working on new and alternative forms of robotic locomotion utilizing FDM 3D printing, and spent the last summer working for Boston Engineering’s Advanced Systems Group developing AUVs. TJ is interested in designing a wide range of robotic systems spanning everything from prosthetics to autonomous drones.

Timothy Murcko

Timothy Murcko

Electrical and Computer Engineering/Robotics Engineering

Timothy Murcko is a senior undergraduate student at Worcester Polytechnic institute (WPI) pursuing a double major in Robotics Engineering (RBE) and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). Tim started his engineering career through FIRST Robotics. He was a dedicated member of Team 2262 from Holliston, MA and since then has continued to be involved with FIRST through various mentoring and volunteering positions. Tim has completed numerous projects related to robotics, PCB development, and signal processing, and has conducted research in soft robotics and acoustics on his own time and for course work. Furthermore, Tim has gained real world experience through a hardware design internship at Silicon Laboratories. Although Tim is mainly interested in the electrical side of robotics, he is also competent in mechanical design and manufacturing. Tim’s areas of interest are in hardware design, sensing and signal processing, and controls for robotic applications.

Advisors

Prof. Taskin Padir

Prof. Taskin Padir

Dr. Padir is an Assistant Professor of Robotics Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He received his Ph.D and M.S. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue University. He holds a B.S in electrical and electronics engineering from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey. He is the Director of Robotics and Intelligent Vehicles Research Laboratory (RIVeR Lab) at WPI. His research interests include human-in-the-loop robotic systems, design of robot control interfaces, cooperating robots, control of redundant robot systems, control of ground vehicles, navigation, path planning, and mapping for autonomous robots. His projects have been sponsored by NSF, NASA, AFRL, The Mathworks, Solidworks, and National Instruments. He received the Inaugural Rho Beta Epsilon Award for Excellence in Robotics Education in 2010 and 2011 Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education for his contributions to WPI’s undergraduate program in Robotics Engineering. He is the Senior Guest Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Education, Special Issue on Robotics Education. He is also the Technical Program Chair for the IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Practical Robot Applications. Student teams advised by Dr. Padir received the following recognitions: First Place at NASA/National Institute of Aerospace Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) Exploration Robo-ops Competition in 2011 and 2012, First Place Award in the 2012 ASME Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition Undergraduate Robot Division, Rookie- of-the-Year Award at the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition organized by DoD-TARDEC in 2010, and Honorable Mention at the Inaugural Cornell Cup presented by Intel in 2012.

Prof. Sonia Chernova

Prof. Sonia Chernova

Sonia is the director of the Robot Autonomy and Interactive Learning (RAIL) lab in the Robotics Engineering Program at WPI. Her research interests span interactive robot learning, human-robot interaction, and human computation, with a central focus on building systems that are able to learn from human instruction. She is particularly interested in active learning and the development of algorithms that enable learning agents to regulate their autonomy. She is also interested in exploring crowdsourcing, both as a means of data collection and to enable rapid prototyping of interactive robotic systems. Sonia received her Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009 working with Manuela Veloso. Before joining WPI, she spent one year working with Cynthia Breazeal as a postdoc at the MIT Media Lab. Sonia advises projects sponsored by ONR, NSF, and DARPA.
Prof. Ken Stafford

Prof. Ken Stafford

Ken came to WPI in 1994 as the department head of Aerospace Studies. Shortly after his retirement as a USAF colonel in 1997, he was hired to manage several WPI student design competition teams, including the WPI/Mass Academy of Math and Science FIRST robotics team (FRC190). This team has since grown to become one of the most popular student activities at WPI and has received more than 60 local, regional, and international awards and trophies-including the 2007 World Championship. Currently assigned as director of the Robotics Resource Center and associate director of the Robotics Engineering Program, he was a member of the interdisciplinary team that developed the Robotics Engineering (RBE) curriculum and established WPI’s RBE bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degree programs. Ken’s research interests include low-speed aerodynamics, mechanical systems for autonomy and robotic dexterity, continuously variable transmission design, super-charging and hybridization of vehicle power systems, and K-12 pre-engineering curricula development. He relishes student interaction through teaching and a wide variety of academic and nonacademic projects. He is currently the faculty advisor to the Sailing Club, Collab Lab (WPI Hackerspace), Tau Beta Pi chapter, CRUD team, and FRC Team 190 Robotics Team, as well as a member of the WPI Footpounders Racing Team, Motorsports Club, and Senior Honor Society.

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